Fulcrum Ruminations

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorials Come 'Round Again

Another Memorial Day. Another reflection on those who've gone.

Angela Houtz

Lieutenant Commander Vince Tolbert

And Jerry Moran

Taken from us on 9/11. We remember.

Special thanks to Anthony Candelori, serving in Afghanistan with the US Army. Come home safe, Antny.

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Saturday, May 02, 2009


I have an online acquaintance at Wordforge who has summed up my feelings on the issue of torture much better than I could have myself. Posted here for your edification are his words:

I'm a vet, I've been thru SERE, and I'll tell you straight up that waterboarding is torture. Is it SEVERE torture? Depends on how afraid you are of drowning, I guess.

I'll probably get flamed for this but I'll say it anyway:

It is immoral to torture prisoners, period. Ben Franklin once said that those who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither, nor with they have either for very long.

When we torture a prisoner, even someone who RICHLY deserves it, we lower ourselves to the moral level at which they operate. It doesn't matter if we're 'only' waterboarding them and they are cutting off heads on Al Jazeera. There is no 'moral equivalency' when it comes to this sort of thing. In my view, freedom loving, God fearing Americans are better than this. "Outsourcing" prisoners to our ME 'allies' so they can be severely tortured represents a level of moral cowardice that is beyond the pale- worse than conducting the torture ourselves and taking responsibility for it.

We have a choice to make as a people: we can hold the moral high ground above our enemies, or we can become the very thing which we despise. Does that position mean that Americans may face an increased risk? Yup. Guess what? We're strong enough to handle it- that added risk is the price of freedom. People are oh so quick to say 'freedom is never free'. They're right. Sometimes being the good guy means you assume a greater degree of risk than the person who lowers themselves to the level of scum. The ends do not justify the means. Torture is wrong, and ultimately it just serves the purpose of our enemies.

Honor, Courage, and Commitment to the High Road. Not just watchwords or empty slogans, but the very principles by which our nation will endure or fall.

Recent revelations in the documents released by the Obama administration put a very troubling face on the conduct of our government. I'd given up on George W. Bush long before this, but the apparent decision to condone such tactics . . . this is not how Americans should behave.

I have a code, corny as it may be, by which I try to live. It goes thusly: Let us strive every moment of our lives to make ourselves better and better to the best of our abilities so that all may profit by it. Let us think of the right and lend our assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let us take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let us be considerate of our country, our fellow citizens, and our associates in everything we say and do. Let us do right to all - and wrong no man.

The more pop-culturally aware among you may recognize this. If you don't, well, I won't spoil it for you.

Now I don't mind if our troops have to smack a bad guy around a little to get him to sit down and be quiet. That's kinda what soldiers do. But once a bad guy has been captured, rendered combat-ineffective, or (ideally) surrendered, there's no call for barbaric treatment. That's what those guys do, like when they saw people's heads off with dull knives in front of a video camera while praising God. That is not, should not, can not be what we do. And besides, the bulk of the evidence seems to indicate that results obtained via torture are not trustworthy. There are better ways.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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